REVIEW: Titans, S2E6 – Conner

titans 206 conner

Despite being poorly timed, “Conner” was actually one of the more cohesive episodes Titans has had in awhile. It offered a comprehensive history of one Conner Kent (Joshua Orpin), though that may not yet be his name, and finally answered the three-week-old question of who would save Jason (Curran Walters).

You may wonder why I bring up the timing, and certainly it’s a matter of taste. Jason’s literal cliffhanger simply doesn’t seem tense enough to suspend its foregone conclusion for yet another hour. If a boy is falling from a building and the next episode is named after a character who notoriously can fly, why not let him fly to the rescue because showing the audience how he got there? This is setting aside my more significant gripe with “Conner” and Titans as a whole, which is that white characters appear to be giving entire episodes’ worth of space while characters of color get mere minutes. Just compare how much screen time non-white characters like Kory, Rose and now even Deathstroke got in their eponymous episodes vs, the entire hours dedicated to Dawn and Hank in their multiple ones; or Jason and Donna in theirs.

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Are you my mother?

But as I said, bitterness aside, “Conner” is a great exploration of both Clark and Lex by proxy – and it raises the always interesting question of what makes someone human. When Cadmus’ most successful cloning subject wakes from him laboratory confinement, he goes berserk on the guards and escapes with the dog viewers know as Krypto. From there he must learn lessons on human interactions and human morality on the go, while Mercy Graves (guest star Natalie Gumede) sends his creator Eve (guest star Genevieve Angelson) and a host of gun-wielding guards after him.

It should come as no surprise that Eve takes a special, almost motherly interest in her subject as well as a scientific one. What does come as a surprise is that Eve believes that helping Luthor create a clone was wrong, and that staying behind to make him a better person is her amends. Their interactions over the course of “Conner” range from awkward to exasperating to touching, just as any two such different people might progress through their introductions. The two only scratch the surface of the ethical implications of certain scientific advancements, and Eve’s contradictory advice to be a good person but not a hero seems pointless by the episode’s end, but the bulk of their story was truly compelling.

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Dinner with the abusive grandpa <3

The other major interaction on Titans this week is between Conner and Lionel Luthor (guest star Peter MacNeill), who in this iteration is a blind and ailing man still living on his farm in Smallville. Conner’s mixed-up up memories of both Clark and Lex’s childhoods led him to seek out their homes for answers, though why he chose the abusive alcoholic over the warm and inviting Martha is a question for the philosophers. He seems to want an explanation for why Lionel treated the way he did, and Lionel’s defense once again calls into question the ideas of nature vs. nurture. It’s certainly a theme Titans has grappled with before, especially in the backstories of Rachel and Dick, and this conversation gives me hope they’ll tackle it in more depth later on.

Mercy Graves is another interesting addition to Titans which I hope will see more screen time in the future. Though her attitude is cold and clipped, and she doesn’t seem too concerned about Conner dying the capture, she expressed a decided interest in Eve’s life choices. In fact, she even let Eve live at the end, despite being (correctly) convinced that the geneticist had helped Conner make yet another escape. Doesn’t quite seem like what Lex would have done, and it suggests that the story will circle back to both of them sooner or later.

Titans, meanwhile, finally circled back to Jason’s predicament in the last few minutes of “Conner” – in which Conner predictably saved him from certain death. Aside from being something of an anticlimax, as there are only so many times you can play with Jason’s life before he becomes like Kenny on South Park, the sequence gave a lot of whiplash. Conner wanders down the street and ignores a man in need, because he’s decided to follow Eve’s mantra of “do no harm but do no help either.” He even tells Krypto the dog not to help! But seconds later he sees Jason and is moved action. Why, other than because Jason is a regular cast member?

As the episode comes to a close, Conner’s act of bravery means Cadmus is on him in a second with Kryptonite bullets to boot. They collar Krypto but otherwise seem to shuffle off, unless Dick (Brenton Thwaites) is setting up to confront them next week. But given that episode 7 is called “Bruce Wayne,” something tells me the Titans will be taking their new friend to the Bat Cave for medical assistance instead.

Titans drops new episodes every Friday on DC Universe.